Culture Beat / May 22, 2019

ESPN Admits Mixing Politics With Sports Was a Mistake

The sports network plans to once again focus on sports sans any overt political commentary.

In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Jimmy Pitaro, the new president of ESPN, tacitly acknowledged that the sports network made a mistake over the past few years when it allowed commentators to express their political opinions on air. He also admitted what many sports fans have long expressed: “Without question our data tells us our fans do not want us to cover politics.” You don’t say. He went on to say, “My job is to provide clarity. I really believe that some of our talent was confused on what was expected of them. If you fast-forward to today, I don’t believe they are confused.”

The data does indeed support Pitaro’s conclusion. Following ESPN’s hard-left political push for everything “social justice,” the sports network saw its viewership numbers tank. Since 2011, the network has lost an estimated 15 million subscribers — bleeding that accelerated as ESPN anchors regularly smeared President Donald Trump as a racist while embracing Colin Kaepernick’s insulting national anthem kneeling protests.

Even as the numbers were dropping, ESPN sought to deny the most obvious cause and claimed that “the ratings crash was due to bad games” and “increased entertainment options,” not the network’s injection of leftist politics into its sports commentary. However, by December of last year, ESPN execs finally admitted the truth. “I think we miscalculated a little bit,” stated ESPN vice president Norby Williamson. Yes, just a little.

The question remains, how many of those 15 million subscriptions will ESPN be able to get back? And furthermore, just how committed is the sports network to simply broadcasting sports?

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